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  2. Elan Journo is Director of Policy Research at the Ayn Rand Institute, author of Winning the Unwinnable War: America’s Self-Crippled Response to Islamic Totalitarianism and co-author with Onkar Ghate of the book discussed here: Failing to Confront Islamic Totalitarianism: From George W. Bush to Barack Obama and Beyond. Journo and Ghate’s book was the subject of a recent controversy at UCLA where students and administrators sought to have it banned on the grounds that the title was “inflammatory.” * * * As soon as I opened your book, I immediately noticed that ARI has been writing about America’s crippled response to Islamic totalitarianism since 2001. As a country, have we really been pursuing an ineffectual foreign policy for fifteen years? At its root, what has been wrong with our foreign policy? American foreign policy has been a disaster. Immediately following 9/11, the U.S. could easily have ended the jihadist menace, but instead our troops—who are the best trained, best equipped warriors in the world—end up mired in what our leaders openly admit are unwinnable wars. It’s been fifteen-plus years since the attacks of September 11, and this enemy remains undefeated. Moreover, it’s a marker of the confusion and evasiveness of U.S. foreign policy that the nature of the enemy is still a subject of debate. It’s not just Al Qaeda, or ISIS, or scattered factions. We face an ideological movement. The enemy is defined, not primarily by their use of terrorist means, but by their ideological ends. They fight to create a society wherein every last detail of the individual’s life is dominated by Islamic religious law or sharia—a cause inspired and funded by patrons such as Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, and above all, Iran. In our book, we call this political-ideological movement Islamic totalitarianism. In our culture, however, we’re at a point where many people don’t understand why the response to 9/11 was ineffectual, nor that there’s a definable enemy, nor what can be done to defend ourselves. Some now doubt that we can ever end the jihadist threat. Many people lay the blame for this debacle on the military, which is a monstrous injustice. Taken together, you can see why people might feel demoralized. In our book, we explain what went wrong and what to do about it. The fundamental problem, we argue, lies with the philosophic ideas shaping—and undercutting—American foreign policy. In particular, irrational ideas about morality have led to a destructive foreign policy. This a bipartisan, longstanding problem. That kind of explanation may surprise people, but the fact is, moral ideas play a crucial and rarely appreciated role in policymaking. Our culture’s conventional ideas about morality have subverted our ability to understand the nature of the enemy we face, to define our self-interest, and to defend ourselves. Despite being militarily and economically the most powerful nation on earth, the United States lacks a coherent foreign policy, let alone a conception of our self-interest. What we show in the book, in fact, are the many ways in which American foreign policy has been self-sacrificial. A very poignant example of the lack of a self-interested foreign policy is the way in which our government controls soldiers in the field through what you call “battlefield ethics” and the laws of war. Can you briefly explain why it’s wrong to issue a blanket prohibition against something like bombing non-military buildings? My co-author Onkar Ghate has a piece early in the book on the issue of civilians in war, and we deal with the issue of morality on the battlefield in a number of pieces (in my prior book, Winning the Unwinnable War, the topic receives considerable attention, too). The basic issue here is that a proper government should protect the lives and freedom of its own citizens. The only moral justification for war is self-defense, and if the government has taken the momentous step of going to war, it must enable the military to defeat the enemy threatening our lives. That perspective sets a moral framework for what soldiers should and should not do on the battlefield. Contrary to what many people think they know about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, in reality, our soldiers were subject to the rules of engagement (the battlefield ethics, in effect) that systematically prevented them from using all necessary force to win, to crush whatever threats we faced—and even to protect themselves. You can find lots of news reports, for example, noting how—in line with Washington’s battlefield ethics—American forces were ordered not to bomb key targets such as power plants, and to avoid firing into mosques (where insurgents hid) lest they offend the sensibilities of locals. This has many destructive results. It contradicts our government’s proper function. In effect such rules of warfare subordinate the lives of our own troops to the lives of enemy fighters—along with civilians in the war zones. It’s morally wrong for our government to put Americans in harm’s way, but prevent them from advancing the notional mission and protecting their own lives. There’s a great deal more to say—including the debilitating effects of such rules on the morale of our own fighters, even as it hands the enemy a huge advantage. I encourage your readers to explore the book for more. Shifting gears a little bit, your book suggests that one of the major failings of U.S. foreign policy has been the attempt to introduce democracy to conquered countries like Iraq. Why isn’t democracy the solution? George W. Bush called his policy the “forward strategy of freedom.” A more accurate name is the democracy crusade. And, as my colleagues and I predicted from the outset, it was a debacle. But I challenge the premise of the question: why think “democracy” is the solution? Facing an enemy seeking to harm us, the government’s primary task is to eliminate that threat. That’s what would protect our lives and freedom. That’s what should have been our government’s goal. That’s the solution. Our task is not to make the Middle East, or any other part of the world, peaceful, unoppressed, and prosperous. So, as we argue at length in Failing to Confront Islamic Totalitarianism and in Winning the Unwinnable War, the basic purpose of Bush’s democracy crusade was irrational and contrary to our self-interest. To ask what went wrong with the democracy crusade is to ask a loaded question. The only thing that the American spread of democracy in the Middle East could achieve was to strengthen and empower the region’s ascendant ideological movement, the Islamist cause, which we should be fighting to defeat. And indeed, Bush’s policy encouraged that enemy. “Democracy” is a much-abused and misunderstood idea, and that sowed confusion about what Bush’s policy sought to do. We untangle those confusions in the book and explain why the spread of “democracy” was contrary to American interests. One of Bush’s premises was the fantastical idea that everyone, everywhere yearns for freedom. That idea is false, however; just look at the appeal of Islamic totalitarianism. And the fact that it is so easily refuted offers you a clue to how Bush’s policy was grounded in self-delusion, not reason. The U.S. and other western nations are very friendly with nations like Saudi Arabia, which you call “The Other Islamic State.” If democracy is not the solution in the region, what’s wrong with working with countries like Saudi Arabia if doing so serves one of our wider goals such as stability in the region? This question is a great illustration of a false alternative firmly embedded in how people think about foreign policy—a false alternative that highlights the uniqueness of an Objectivist approach. The question comes down to: Either we uphold some kind of idealistic policy — for example, the democracy crusade — that’s in fact selfless and destructive, or else we throw aside moral principles and ideals and instead pursue what’s seen to be in our self-interest and thus “practical.” And because such “interests” are divorced from moral judgment, some people wonder, why not deal with such monstrous regimes as Saudi Arabia? What this boils down to is: be moral or be practical. Ayn Rand rejected that view: it was a false choice, albeit one that people find unavoidable given the moral views they hold. This moral/practical dichotomy crops up everywhere, not only in foreign policy. This false alternative stems from a (wrong) view of what it means to follow moral principles: the default view is that morality is equated with selfless service to others, which is contrasted with the conventional view of what it means to be concerned with one’s own interests. The latter is seen as base, even amoral, but “practical.” Ayn Rand comes to morality with a fundamentally different framework. She advocated a morality of rational egoism, and in her view to define and pursue one’s self-interest requires thought and the guidance of objective moral principles. On her premises, there’s no moral/practical dichotomy either in ethics or in foreign policy. To unpack your question further, let’s take each element in turn. What should our policy be toward Saudi Arabia? The starting point for that is to judge the Saudi regime by an objective moral standard: is it a free society? are its actions friendly toward us? In fact, the Saudi regime is an oppressive monarchy distinguished by its imposition of Islamic religious law. Moreover, Saudi wealth has fueled the proselytizing for the Islamic totalitarian movement, for decades. It is a scandal that the U.S. treats that regime as an ally. There’s much more to say about it, but that should be enough to indicate that a truly self-interested approach would be far different. We touch on this in the book, and I look at another regime, Pakistan, that has also been undeservedly treated as an ally, and what a principled approach looks like. Let me say a brief word about the issue of regional “stability,” which you raised in the question. “Stability” is a slippery term, and it’s difficult to think of a period of “stability” in the Middle East. Quite the contrary: that region has been ravaged by coups, revolutions, civil wars, inter-state wars, guerilla insurgencies — for decades, and long before the U.S. was a major factor in the area. In my view, our interest is not primarily regional stability but protecting the freedom of Americans. Our chief concern should be fending off, and when necessary retaliating against, hostile forces emanating from that region. As you note, the oppressive nature of the Saudi regime is often ignored by our foreign policy makers, but lots of college students are part of the movement to divest from Israel because of alleged human rights violations. Given that, is it appropriate for the U.S. to continue to support Israel in the ways that we do? My upcoming book on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict answers that question in detail. But the short answer is: No, we shouldn’t continue down the current path because U.S. policy toward Israel is a train wreck—a mess of conflicting motives, aims, and short-range goals. The net result is harming our interests because our policy fails to evaluate the moral standing of the adversaries in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict properly. A conventional view today is that the U.S. is strongly supportive of Israel. In certain narrow ways, Washington has been supportive, but it has also done a lot to subvert Israel. A true picture of U.S. policy would have to include the fact that American policy has empowered our enemies in the region. What’s needed is a principled backing of Israel, for its virtue as a free society facing a common foe, the Islamist movement. My view of the conflict, and America’s stake in it, is indicated in a talk I gave a couple of years ago, which I encourage your readers to watch on YouTube. The boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, which you mentioned, has captured the imagination of many students. But I regard that movement as negating justice, rather than upholding it. The leaders of the BDS movement single out Israel, which is basically a free country, for alleged wrongs, but there’s no comparable outrage at actual, well-documented, incontestable violations of individual rights by the Middle East’s various theocracies and dictatorships. That should set off an alarm in your mind, if you care about justice and freedom. In our conversation today we don’t have time to dig into the wrongs Israel has been accused of, and to form a view of the conflict and the moral standing of the adversaries, you would have to look into those accusations; I examine the major issues in my upcoming book. If your readers are interested in the BDS issue, I did a podcast with an expert on the subject, Dr. Asaf Romirowsky. Do you see a direct link between The West’s failure to confront Islamic totalitarianism abroad and the increasing threats to free speech and safety at home? Absolutely. These two issues are entwined. The failure to defeat this enemy has been compounded by our repeated appeasement of its assaults on the freedom of speech. Had we defeated the Islamic totalitarian movement years ago, had we shown its ideal to be a lost cause, it’s hard to imagine any of its foot-soldiers daring to carry out a massacre such as we saw at French magazine Charlie Hebdo in 2015. And this pattern goes way back. Two significant episodes in that pattern were the 1979 hostage-taking of American diplomats in Iran, and the 1989 Iranian bounty put on the head of the British author Salman Rushdie for writing The Satanic Verses. For years we at ARI have been at the frontlines in the battle over freedom of speech, and my colleague Steve Simpson sums up our view of the dynamic in his superb book, Defending Free Speech. He discusses that issue in the book’s Introduction, which you can read online for free. You’ve documented how deeply entrenched the problems are and the size of the threat, but you don’t see any of our current political parties as offering appropriate solutions. What can people who are interested in a solution do? The problems with American foreign policy stem from the influence of irrational philosophic ideas, and it will take considerable work to change direction. But it’s doable. The starting point is to understand the situation. So I encourage people to educate themselves. Read, understand the key issues, and speak up—when and where you judge best. My hope is that Failing to Confront Islamic Totalitarianism and Winning the Unwinnable War can help people make sense of American foreign policy since 9/11, and thereby empower them to be more effective advocates for their own ideas. * * * Follow Elan on Twitter for a chance to win one of 15 copies of his book Failing to Confront Islamic Totalitarianism. Click here to enter the sweepstakes. The post Failing to Confront Islamic Totalitarianism: An Interview with Elan Journo appeared first on The Undercurrent. Link to Original
  3. Couldn't we say that -meaning- here refers to an attitude and drive, an identification? This sense of the word meaning is a different concept than the purpose something serves or what something is - apart from one's awareness.
  4. Same goes for Kevin. There are things that objectively are meaningful to him, regardless of whether he has happened to find that meaning yet or not.
  5. Whether or not it's a value to him is not ultimately hypothetical. Either it is or it isn't, regardless of whether he has yet to actually taste it or not. The facts of reality are one way or the other to begin with. John's nature and the nature of reality and the nature of chocolate are what they are, regardless of John's state of knowledge on any of these issues.
  6. Yes, Eioul, I am trying to do something similar to Hegel here, using dialectics. And I agree that Rand and Kant are not in a 100% straightforward conflict. Instead, their conflict is more like 47% internal and 53% external (greater external on Rand's side). That's what makes this conflict so interesting and a challenge to resolve! I have long abandoned any hope of integrating the two, but I think that an idea of transcending, which is very different from integration, seems fruitful. By 'transcending' their conflict, I do not mean putting their comparable pieces together (I don't think that's possible in order to make a wholesome philosophy from that). Transcending Kant and Rand necessitates opposing both even without putting them together. So this is also a different kind of dialectic than Hegel's because I do not try to connect pieces through opposition. I am trying to oppose the pieces to the point of launching as far away from them as possible. The end result, I think, should be somewhere between Objectivism and Kantianism. I abandoned my neo-Objectivism when I realized that Objectivism cannot be integrated with Marxism. But there may be a key insight found through my failure. Marxism also tries to find its own way, and they are right between Kantianism and Objectivism! Following the same mathematical comparison I used above (from the levels of my Model), Marxists are 60% internal to Objectivism. In other words, Marxists transcend Kantianism by 13% (or his conflict with idealists like Rand, also comparable to Plato, as Eioul correctly stated). I also want to transcend Kantianism by 13% like Marxists do, but in a way that is more congruent with Objectivism. In other words, while Marxists were directed more toward Kantianism (and yet, through Russia's historical conditions, became more congruent with Platonism), I want to (explicitly) be more congruent with idealism (like Objectivism) because I am directed toward it. The beauty here is that Objectivism provides exactly the kind of foundation that I seek (Peikoff's DIM). Yet, my transcending Objectivism would have to seem like Kant's transcending idealism, as I also believe in a priori categories, yet my categories are broader than Kant's by 20% (external conflict; Kant's categories as 86% of Kant's reason are only reflected within 66% of my philosophical position) because my categories are not of reason but transcend reason. My categories are of worldviews. My categories are people as they are in themselves. The very nature of a person, which constitutes his or her identity and thus causes him or her to live and view the world in a particular way, is the person's category. And because people's natures (categories) are set and unchanging, they are a priori. I really hope you'd help me with this transcendence, which I call transmaterialism. Yes, this is very interesting. Bill Harris wrote to me on Facebook yesterday, repeating his same old belief, that Objectivism 'isn't a philosophy, it cannot in any way be compared to Kant.' So Kantians like Harris (a true academician) think that this is not a philosophical forum and that most people on it aren't philosophers. The conflict also develops along the same lines you mentioned. It is incommensurable because questions of interest to Kantians are non-questions or not interesting to Randians and vice versa. Hume is certainly closer to Kant, so Kant found a way for his ethics to work within Humean philosophy: their conflict would be mostly internal, as in 87.5% internal and 12.5% external. (These calculations ignore shared directions above positions.) However, internal conflict only occurs from similarity of views and not their difference. It's a psychological conflict, like when you see something of yourself in another and you hate them for it. People who are not so psychologically insecure (and I think Rand totally showed herself as such in debates with Kantians) wouldn't feed the conflict so much, but simply accept it as a ground of convergence. No need to bash each other's skulls if we converge - simply learn that we have our own spaces, and there is enough space for everyone. In On Pedagogy, Kant mentions a story related to this mindset, and I've just found the original. It is the story of Uncle Toby and the fly in The life and opinions of Tristram Shandy, gentleman by Laurence Sterne. Here is the excerpt from it: So in the same way Kantians and Objectivists can coexist in the world that is 'wide enough to hold both,' DIS and MIS. It is also a world that can hold INT. Returning to your quote, it is a surprise to me that Kant was in analytic tradition because he surely wrote like a continentalist! Maybe because he analyzed so specifically he would be an analyticist, but then Rand did too, didn't she!? (As well as Wittgenstein [some Objectivists' darling] whom I consider a Kantian.) To think Rand in continental tradition seems very wrong to me, very wrong. Perhaps such is the state of the world after Kant, when people are so, so very confused about philosophy. Besides, I reject analytical vs. continental distinction in traditions of philosophy, since they mix philosophers who have nothing to do with each other! I reject it as bullshit, the same bullshit as calling Kant's philosophy an idealism. There is nothing idealismic about it! Kant is a DIS, if you only listen to Peikoff. I think my problem is that I also share much with Kant. My internal conflict with him is much more complex, however, because my deficient 40% under Kant's categorical 86% is non-convergence that is contradictory and not at the same time (and yet my internal conflict with Kantianism is 7% lower than one it has with Objectivism). It is making me unstable. Kant's philosophy is stronger where mine is weaker, and yet mine is more fundamental (even more specific). I cannot understand this while I am explaining it to you, hoping that someone can explain myself to me, as we cannot explain us to ourselves, just as Kantians like Harris cannot look at themselves in context or Rand couldn't analyze her metaphysics (which she had since she was 3 years old). I have the same problem as everyone. I cannot look at my nature, however much I try, but I think analyzing my own lens is important in order to transcend the factoring philosophies. Metaphilosophically (if I am using the term right, but nobody has contradicted me yet, so I continue using it), it's not important in what way someone means something. It's important in what way someone thinks in context to someone else. And especially with an abundance of conflicts between those who call themselves followers of any one philosophy we need to differentiate even more than a few traditions for contextual analyses. Ideas change and evolve historically, but people don't change. It's people's nature not to change essentially but to remain who they are, regardless of space or time in which they exist. I haven't found another framework that theoretically explains how people in different countries and historical periods create essentially the same philosophies. With the help of my hypothesis, I've found many such individuals. Here are just a few to give some perspective: Democritus and Kant, Emerson and Hegel, Jean Jaurès and Hegel, Mach and Avenarius, Michael Kosok and Karen Barad. These individuals, some less known than others, developed, what they thought, their own original philosophies, but actually, we find, they were following traditions that continued throughout history. Speculatively, maybe these categories is nature's mechanism to prevent human philosophical diversity and endeavors from succumbing into oblivion. So, it wasn't about feelings for him? Did you know that your evaluations of philosophies reflect your own category? I would say, Eiuol, that you are a mat8 (Nietzschean), but you may prove me wrong.
  7. Boydstun, Plato started with mind/body dichotomy (I believe he mentioned it in Timaeus) and Descartes developed and extended it, while Kant took the mind part and cut off the rest. This is of course a simplification of Plato and Descartes, and the only thing Kant seems to have inherited from Plato is terminology. As you well understand, essential Plato has more to do with Berkeley than Kant, which is to say his philosophy has little to nothing to do with Kant. What Kant rejected in Descartes is exactly his Platonism, the idea of mind coming from an analytic a priori noumenal realm. The materialist side of Descartes, which is also reflected in Peter Ramus, Kant gladly accepted. Evidently, Descartean and Kantian metaphysics are not the same, since Descartes is coming from a kind of Augustinian-Platonic realm, a God-head rationalization for mind's existence. Yet surely you must understand that Descartes is more complex than that, as he was delving into mental and bodily mechanics - the ways our minds and bodies work. That's what I meant above when I said that Kant took the mental (not metaphysical per se) part of Descartes and cut everything above mind (body and Platonic et al. metaphysics), reducing it to mind alone (really, metaphysical brain, which is today reduced by neuroscientists and psychologists to brain alone - not a major difference, in my book). Oh yes, Hume was a huge influence on Kant in terms of skepticism, but Kant at least transcended Hume's agnosticism as well as Hume's criticisms of metaphysics and ethics. So, in a way, I agree with you that Hume is a first-tier influence on Kant, and Descartes is a second-tier, but you understand that Descartes came before both, and he had built the foundation that Kant, arguably more than Hume, required for his philosophy. Everything I write comes through the lens of metaphilosophy I borrowed from Peikoff's DIM and developed on my own. So your comment of "Leibniz had earlier shredded Descartes’ skeptical-doubting way to sure knowledge" does not come through my lens, since Leibniz was essentially a Descartean, that is they had the same philosophy, as the boundaries of philosophies are concerned in my metaphilosophical framework. Even if Leibniz criticized Descartes so unfairly (from his own necessitated by the same metaphysics view, and not your evaluation of Leibniz), the nature of his criticism could only be compared to that of Francis Bacon's criticism of Aristotle, which wasn't a criticism of essential parts of philosophy but merely some new ideas trying to replace the old, forgotten, misunderstood ones. As we know, ideas change historically, but people's minds don't change. With that, you may and should, of course, attempt at providing counter-evidence to my claims. To start, you would need to show with quotes how (better from both sides) Leibniz contradicted Descartes in essential parts of his philosophy. This way you may finally be the one to contradict my hypothesis and make it collapse like a house of cards. Yes, so continuing with following results of my hypothesis, since Descartes and Leibniz are essentially following Descartean idealism, influence on Kant from Leibniz is essentially the same as when I said that Descartean foundation had provided the grounds for Kant. The specification of these grounds had the face of monadology, which reflects Democritus and, therefore, Kant (a major result of my hypothesis is that Kant is essentially a DIS because he is following in the footsteps of Democritus, even though he formalized and specified the philosophy to such an extent as to cause us to call this philosophy not merely Democritean but Kantian). Now, if you are unable to contradict me in regard to essential differences between Descartes and Leibniz, your contradiction in regard to essential similarities between Democritus and Kant would not only shut down my blog but would also shut me up, possibly forever. For that, of course, we would need to contentially compare the surviving fragments of Democritus from secondary sources to the bulky corpus of Kant. There you go. But this way you are not contradicting the results of my hypothesis. Instead, you are only supporting them because Descartes, as Ramus before and Leibniz later, contradicted Aristotle and later Newton, and the essentially same kind of contradiction against Aristotle and Newton was at the core of Kant's philosophy. So you know, my INTs are, among many others, Aristotle, Bacon, Locke, and Newton. MIS (idealD) are Descartes, Ramus, Leibniz; related to MIS (idealP) to Plato and Berkeley. DIS (mat7) are Democritus and Kant; related to DIS (mat8) Epicurus and Hume. Here you can find all their essential conflicts or similarities, based on who they are categorically. But the best way to see what I mean is through the visualization my Diagram provides, a major improvement, I think, upon Peikoff's hypothesis, even though it required some changes to Peikoff's five categories. I could see from my side why Aristotle's syllogistic would be credited to Plato (and no, not merely from the side of Socrates's appearance in it). Aristotle developed logic not to describe his own philosophy, but to understand the end of his philosophy, which he saw in Plato. Aristotle's whole philosophy can be described as potentials actualizing. That actualization part is logic and Plato - hence the non-essential similarity in terms of Aristotle's direction toward Plato's position (their directions are pointed toward each other - quite a stable bond, as we've seen through history). Yet, it would be wrong to take this similarity anywhere further because direction and position aren't the same, and many people reduce directions to positions - such is, perhaps, a conclusion of Alcinous. Notice what Alcinous starts with in your quote: God. And Kant ended with God in his Critique of Judgment. This similarity of 'negative' theology thus may be non-essential. The differences in Alcinous and Kant are becoming much stronger as we continue reading the quote. Kant would contradict Alcinous, in that we cannot intellectually grasp God. Hereby, Alcinous's theology seems as objective as any other, except Kant's. If Alcinous was a Platonist, as you say, then his intuitive intellect would be vastly different from Kant's. Platonic 'intuition', as is their intellect, is basically analytical and not synthetic. In fact, the result of my hypothesis can be said to be that all genuine idealists (like Plato and Descartes; i.e. MISes) use analytic a priori. We need to thank Kant for revealing this, as he himself was NOT an idealist if we follow his analytic vs. synthetic distinction. He would be as much an idealist as transhumanists be humanists today. The 'trans' part was Kant's essential invention, and many people who only look on the surface then write that (I paraphrase) idealism is a kind of philosophy that is based on mind (sorry I cannot find the source where I saw this definition). The reason such 'definitions' are ludicrous is that materialism is also a kind of philosophy that can be based on mind. See Democritus, for the sake of an example! Or any of our eliminative materialists, if a need arises. Mind is basically brain - the essence of brain. Hence true idealists must make claims that stretch metacosmically and thus BEYOND mind. If someone cannot understand this clear description of idealists, then they must be materialists because only materialists cannot grasp this! Seems to be a superstition - a darling to idealists, like "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain". All his other 'negative' descriptions of God are so specific as to be intended as descriptions of Him in general. Kant realized this, so he never uttered any claim or description of God until the end of his last Critique and even then he qualified it by calling it subjective (see Remark to § 86). Oh, Alcinous, you have a 'concept' of Him!? And you are trying to prove it to us through a seeming absence of words that can be applied to describe it? But even whenever we say there is NO God, psychologically we are thinking of God. And so when we say we cannot describe God, you are still thinking of God as so many objective theologists do, like Muhammad, for example. In Islam, Allah is also ineffable and hidden beneath a veil. Actually many veils, so many that I've lost count. Put in other words, all these qualifications and unqualifications when negated result in Hegel's absolute idea. Still sounds idealist, whichever way you turn it. And idealism whether it's negative or positive theologically is still idealism. Even theology, whether it's negative or positive in idealism, most probably is objective. Hence I like to use objective vs. subjective distinctions in theology rather than negative vs. positive. The latter is deceiving, whereas the former reflects exactly the kind of content these theologies possess. This, for example, sounds like a very objective statement about God. Latter statements about God's ontology from the quote merely show God's transcendental nature (which Kant knowingly flipped or inverted), as with all transcendental, metacosmic realms, be they Platonic or idealist in general (but obviously not Kantian!). This kind of pure transcendentalism (both not Kant's original terms) was later modified in a very distinctive and essential manner by pantheists like Spinoza, as in thinking of God not being essentially 'different from any thing'. Nevertheless, Spinoza, through such modifications, didn't become an atheist; instead, he became a different kind of objective theologist. Kant, however, called Spinoza an atheist (e.g., § 87 in Crit#3). Why? I think because Kant himself wasn't an objective theologist, so he had to oppose any theologies that claimed to be 'objective', and especially those that were in direct conflict with his own 'subjective' kind, as Spinoza was not an idealist but an INT - the direct enemy of DIS.
  8. Yesterday
  9. You seem to be seeking a way to describe Rand and Kant in opposing terms and then transcend or synthesize those issues, or seeking to use dialectic method in order to find solutions to problems like Hegel did. But I don't think Kant and Rand are opposites or in a 100% opposing relationship. Their methods of doing philosophy are quite different. Internal and external are issues to Kant and replies Hume's inquiries towards them. For Rand, Hume's problems are non-issues or simple to answer - the important questions are rather concept formation and developing knowledge. Kant is in the analytic tradition (which has its value to be sure), Rand isn't. Rand vs. Plato is more directly comparable. There is no filter to Rand, period. That's the difference. Internal and external are simply different parts of the same process, where internal is either consciousness, or automatic and/or non-conscious. It's not separated or apart from external reality. Quote please - I don't know what grammarian means here. That's what I mean, this is more like Chomsky. I don't see how Kant is more similar to Chomsky. Where? I've seen the debate, I don't think he meant that in a Kantian way. Nah, Nietzsche was more about sense of life and actualization. Post-modernism is its own thing.
  10. . Hi Ilya, thank you for all the thinking comments. No, I haven’t yet gotten to read Collin’s book. On Reid and Kant, the great help is Manfred Kuehn’s Scottish Commonsense in Germany 1768–1800. I wondered in what ways you think of Descartes as having a great influence on Kant. Is it because of Kant’s attraction to the a priori? But wouldn’t that be a long inheritance starting back at Plato, not at Descartes? Kant did not buy Descartes’ metaphysical scheme of extension and thought. And Kant did not seem to take the Cartesian form of skepticism seriously, unlike his seriousness with Humean skepticism. Leibniz had earlier shredded Descartes’ skeptical-doubting way to sure knowledge; perhaps that had an effect on Kant. I do recall some striking concord with Descartes' concept of motion (and significant deviations from Newton's dynamics) in Kant's Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science. I’ve lately been studying Alcinous’ The Handbook of Platonism (c. 150). He’s got Aristotle and the Stoics as articulators of implicit systematic doctrine in the Dialogues of the perfect master Plato. Even the syllogistic, invented by Aristotle, is credited to Plato. Yes, Alcinous was a go for the negative way, among other ways more positive. From the negative spiel: “God is ineffable and graspable only by the intellect [intuitive intellect, I think], as we have said, since he is neither genus, nor species, nor differentia, nor does he possess any attributes, neither bad (for it is improper to utter such a thought), nor good (for he would be thus by participation in something, to wit, goodness), nor indifferent (for neither is this in accordance with the concept we have of him), nor yet qualified (for he is not endowed with quality, nor is his peculiar perfection due to qualification) nor unqualified (for he is not deprived of any quality which might accrue to him). Further, he is not a part of anything, nor is he in the position of being a whole which has parts, nor is he the same as anything or different from any thing; for no attribute is proper to him, in virtue of which he could be distinguished from other things. Also he neither moves anything, nor is he himself moved.” (165, 5–17) Translation of John Dillon (1993).
  11. Three Things 1. To drink or not to drink? That is the question Stone's Full Circle Ale presents to me:Stone Brewing is breaking new ground by becoming the first to try making beer using water that "comes from the toilet."In lieu (hah!) of my occasional beer recommendation, I ask because all water is recycled, and this wouldn't be newsworthy but for two possibilities: (1) environmentalists are enamored of recycling regardless of whether it is actually wasteful (i.e., more expensive than other alternatives); or (2) the brewery, based in San Diego, which did not suffer from California's drought, could be celebrating the innovation accountable for this fact. Regardless, the new beer will afford a chance for some interesting conversations once it hits the fan -- I mean, the market. So my question comes not from a place of squeamishness, but from moral opposition to environmentalism, which is not the same thing as the wise use of resources. 2. What am I doing right now? Well, my daughter has yet another ear infection. Her waking up caused my son to wake early, so guess where he is. Here's a hint: "HOw To Workk From Home Wth Yor Chil,d SittiNG ON Yoour/ Lappppppp." Luckily, about half of this was already done. And yes, I'm quite "focsed." Thanks for asking. 3. The other day, I raised my voice at my daughter, whom I was having to correct for at least the third time. My son, who is three, but very protective of his older sister, darted into the kitchen almost instantly and told me to "Calm down." Weekend Reading "When you focus on the things you feel you did wrong, you begin to overlook the things you did right." -- Michael Hurd, in "Leave those Regrets at Home" at The Delaware Wave "Alcoholism, while not a disease, is not a choice in the normal sense of the term." -- Michael Hurd, in "Addiction: How Much is Too Much?" at The Delaware Coast Press "If his presidency accomplishes nothing more than exposing the media as the dishonest, immoral and largely unaccountable bunch of sycophants for the leftist-socialist cause that they are, Donald Trump will have done America a heroic service." -- Michael Hurd, in "Left's Efforts to Censor 'Fake News' Real Threat to Free Speech" at Newsmax -- CAV Link to Original
  12. Below is the famous Chomsky vs. Foucault debate on human nature. Chomsky uses 'creativity' like Kant's synthetic acts to oppose Foucault, who opposes Chomsky by claiming that everything is conditioned by social norms. Some commentators said the two sometimes talked passed each other on completely different topics without themselves realizing this.
  13. Totally agree, and as Rand said - you need to know your enemy (e.g., in "Philosophy: Who Needs It?"). However, I don't consider Critique of Pure Reason Kant's best work anymore. Now I think his best work is Critique of Judgment. After familiarizing myself with Kant (and I am still in the process), I can verify Peikoff's categorization of him as DIS. I freaking love Peikoff's work - it totally opened my eyes on philosophy. This is actually true. However, if you take it to a logical extreme, then it can create a nutshell around you, which cannot be penetrated by others and has others simply slip away (Chekhov's "The Man in a Case" somewhat comes to mind). And then you are left alone. And since others aren't required, you remain self-sufficient. I am writing from personal experience, by the way. And this is not only my view on this ethics. Consider Stefan Molyneux, who was also inspired by Objectivism and who talks about building healthier relationships than those usually developed by hardcore Objectivists. Besides, there isn't really a need to go farther than Rand herself. Consider how she was with her best friends Isabel Paterson and Nathaniel Branden. I consider Branden INT, by the way. The guy was a genius psychologist. Actually both systems are methods. In Boydstun's essay we have this elaboration of Kant's system as an epistemological method: Academicians understand Kant's system in exactly the same way, in that epistemology as a method to verify or test knowledge, so it can be differentiated from belief. Kant is not a skeptic (even Peikoff says this in DIM), Kant is a reducer: he reduces everything to reason alone, ignoring what's 'above' and 'beyond' reason that cannot be represented as knowledge in Kant's system. Kant's system thus becomes extremely narrow, whereas Rand's is considered to be extremely open, in this respect, even to the point of some academicians calling Objectivism - 'playing tennis without a net.' 'A net,' in this case, could be considered a Kantian epistemologism of a priori categories of reason. I think Rand's philosophy's breadth of application boggles some philosophers' minds because they cannot wrap their narrow Kantian heads around it. In fact, I think the general vs. specific conflict is the main one between them that can be overcome through my own philosophy, as I consider it to be broad enough and specific that it doesn't lose on either front and therefore transcends both Rand and Kant. However, maybe it's the same reason my philosophy is not understood by many: they simply cannot accept its Randian side. My purpose is to help them understand, but the best way is to first improve Rand's reputation in academia (hence premise 3 is a close second in importance). One of my issues with Kant is an absence of his politology (scratch that - see a discussion on Kant's politics below, in a reply to splitmary), so we don't know what role he gave to those in power. He couldn't have simply ignored the structures of power in favor of merely reducing everyone to minds, right? So the idea of dignity can be interpreted differently based on Kant's interpretation of how power structure affects citizens. If we agree with Kant and merely reduce everyone to a mind, then each person would be dignified but in a vacuum and completely oblivious to what's going on around him in terms of politics. But if we take Kant's statements when he praises war in Critique of Judgment, §28, and also there, §83, when he speculates that war can be guided by concealed higher wisdom, we can interpret his statement of dignity to the same extent the Nazis interpreted dignity: that is, you are only dignified if you fight for your glorious and sacred Third Reich. In support for this kind of thought, consider Kant's On Pedagogy (I am using a Russian edition, so I have to paraphrase), when he wrote that the only source of evil is when human nature is not made to follow rules and that, since we can train dogs and horses, so we can also train people. At the end of his Pedagogy, surprisingly, Kant teaches how to inculcate respect for religion and faith in God in young adults. Maybe this goes along with the 'concealed higher wisdom' that guides people to kill each other for the glory of one's Fatherland? Kant's (in)famous categorical imperative: "Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law." The infamous SS Lieutenant Colonel Adolf Eichmann declared "with great emphasis that he had lived his whole life ... according to a Kantian definition of duty". ... [After the trial] Eichmann acknowledged he did not "live entirely according to it, although [he] would like to do so" (wikipedia). Wow, so people must have been right when they claimed that Kant's philosophy covered everything there is to cover by philosophy. This might seem that his philosophy is as broad as Rand's, but I interpret this as that he reduced everything to his narrow and specific view, whereas Rand, as epistemologue wrote, 'leaves metaphysical questions open' instead of punching out everyone's reality in 12 categories (as Harriman mentioned something similar once about Kant, I think). Now, as to Kant's politics, from the Wikipedia link you shared, "the exercise of governmental power is constrained by the law." (Question 1:) Is this law different from Kant's practical laws, and if so - how and what if it conflicts with the laws he derived from reason? This political section is very interesting in respect to how it relates to his practical reason. Another related question for you (Question 2), Skye, is (as you mentioned in our Facebook discussion) how does Rawls's egalitarianism contradict Kantian politics? I should also tell you about Eduard Bernstein, a famous neo-Kantian Marxist - as he, starting the whole revisionist tradition in Marxism (followed by Leszek Kołakowski and Noam Chomsky to an extent), thought that Marx was missing ethics and that Kantian ethics was perfect to fill that void. I am not sure whether Rawls's views at all reflect Bernstein's (I haven't studied either in more detail), but maybe they are somehow related through Bernstein's evolutionary socialism with the final goal of socialism being nothing and progress toward that goal being everything. Reformism (contra revolutionism) can very much match that view, since they'd like to change laws to help citizens economically without necessarily taking political power. It's liberalism either way you look at it: Kant's, Rawls's, or Bernstein's. From Wikipedia on Kant's political philosophy: This is similar to what European union did with their Charter of fundamental human rights (to me it's propaganda of peace for economic security, while those same rights are waived instantly when EU starts wars). In contrast (maybe a hidden malice?), compare to § 28.: Of Nature regarded as Might (in Crit#3): Interestingly, low selfishness is seen here as a bad result of commerce. Here is the original German of the last sentence from Kant, I. (1912). Sämliche Werke in Sechs Bänden. Leipzig: Inselverlag. B. 6. s. 126: herrschend zu machen can be differently translated as 'prevailing, prevalent' (in terms of happening) or 'ruling', den niedrigen Eigennutz as 'base (low) self-interest', Weichlichkeit as 'softness' rather than 'effeminacy', and die Denkungsart des Volks zu erniedrigen pflegt as 'to humiliate the way of thinking of the people.' Whichever way you look at this, Kant conflicts with Rand, and their ethics covered in my premise 4 is perhaps their biggest conflict. Also an interesting piece from Wiki: I don't know what to say to that yet or how to apply Kantian politics to governments other than EU, in whose 'objective' charter of human rights I don't believe. Perhaps I was wrong in thinking about Kant's politics more along the lines of Plato (or Stalin, for that matter), but that's only because I didn't know he had politics in the first place (poor excuse, I know). Thank you for enlightening me with this new information, Skye! Maybe Kantian politics is not so bad after all because we haven't seen yet what it can do to a greater extent. Or maybe EU is exactly that perfection, but then what about Brexit and possible Frexit? Problems with it after all. If it's already falling apart - that means it's not working. EU, following Kant, has 'democratic deficit' so it is not democracy per se but a federated parliamentary democratic republican union of governments - or whatever kind of beast it is, please someone explain. A mixture of some good, if not currently best, government structures so far, and it doesn't seem to be working. Kant "distinguished three forms of government: democracy, aristocracy, and monarchy with mixed government as the most ideal form of government." I like this part of Kant: "the goal of perpetual peace in society can be achieved only when the rulers consult with philosophers on a regular basis." But it can work to the opposite effect too, as we all know. Yes, and I understood that you understood that the external includes the internal, hence also supporting the breadth/generality of premise 1. Kantians, on the other hand, cannot understand this because the external is included under the internal - the opposite of Rand. To us (Objectivists and me), perception connects our consciousness to external, physical, contextual reality, right? To Kantians, perception as internal appearances connects them (as minds with a priori categories) to a metaphysical reality (noumenon) within themselves (within mind but beyond the boundaries of reason). That's why Kantians are confusing to us. Or maybe just explain that 'filter' better. Or maybe the 'filter' itself can be used to transcend the conflict of 2? That's what I am trying to figure out. Can someone connect the connections between external and internal for Rand and Kant maybe by following a better description of them? I know external and internal are connected, but I don't seem to understand how in context with Kant. We totally need a Kantian expert on this thread. I am only trying to understand him still. Correct me if I am wrong. The directionality seems to be different: in Objectivism perception is outward - toward (external) objects; in Kantianism perception is inward - toward (internal) appearances of objects. While Objectivists take objects as objects (3D?), Kantians take objects as only surfaces (2D?). Perhaps the dimensionality is a useless analogy here, but I am trying to make a point that Objectivists take things-in-themselves as parts of objects of perception, like Marxist materialists do (who, in my opinion, also try to transcend idealism and Kantian materialism, but in their own way, obviously), but Democritus and Kant only looked at the surface of things, at their appearances within reason and could only explain the external world by means of mind/reason, that is, internally. Democritus also used math to explain different characteristics of atoms and called them 'amers' (this is from a soviet 1979 text, so I am not sure how it would back-translate or whether it's even considered accurate by the West academia), but here is something from SEP as a temporary buffer before further transition: That is, atoms (or matter) couldn't be known in themselves for Democritus but only through appearances (phenomena in Kant), which Democritus gave as much and similar value as did Kant, while both weren't strictly empiricists. In the Russian book Democritus (B. B. Bits, Democrit, Moskva: "Misl'", 1979), there is written: Hereby, I see this as a kind of similar view taking various categories through which we describe reality. The difference is that Democritus used mathematics, which is analytical, and Kant used synthetic a priori, but with Rudolf Carnap, a logical positivist, we found that there are also analytic a priori (perhaps the Russellian bridge from logic to math helped). Quine showed (as did Peikoff later) that there are NO synthetic and analytic distinctions, and Chomsky used some of Quine's ideas to support his ever-in-progress-to-completion universal grammar theory (remember how Rand called Kantians the grammarians in "Fairness Doctrine for Education" [FDE], 1972?). Hence historically we got to grammar, or mere sentence structures without any meaning in themselves, from a priori categories, first philosophical and then mathematical. This is also going beyond Peikoff's DIM but following in his footsteps and using the main Objectivist premise of philosophy affecting culture and science. If it wasn't for Descartes and Leibniz, Kant might have never found his philosophy. Descartes was overly concerned with reason and mechanistic determinism (also found in Kant's Crit3 when he speaks of mechanical teleology), while Leibniz tried 'integrating' Plato with Democritus, and his philosophizing about phenomenological 'appearances' were praised by Kant (see Boydstun's essay, from which I quoted in an earlier comment). So surely, Descartes upped philosophy through Enlightenment, but Chomsky is no Descartean (even though he calls himself so). Instead, he is, as Rand noticed quite accurately, a Kantian. See this quote to remind you of this from FDE: I spoke to a Kantian (Bill Harris, also known on this blog), and he said there is no philosophy in her quote, but I disagree. Here you may find the same kind of metaphilosophical delineation developed in Peikoff's DIM. In this quote, Rand differentiates the determinists vs. indeterminists: the famous conflict between Democritean and Epicurean philosophy (notice that they are both materialists, thus DIS in my book). Today the conflict is between Chomskyans (the grammarians) and the decentralizers like Michel Foucault (the feeling type, like Nietzsche). Do you see the parallels?
  14. Hi Ilya. This point is partly right. Objectivism does emphasize externalism as far as all knowledge, to be knowledge, must be linked to reality and be reduced (traced) to entities at the perceptual level. Objectivist is internalist to the extent that perceptual experience itself is valid to use, and one can make use of internal states. You might be better off avoiding that terminology and saying that internal and external can be linked without a filter in between. This would be like Greek philosophers, as well as some Vedic and Eastern philosophers. Regarding all that except the Copenhagen interpretation, Descartes and Locke probably impacted a lot more than Kant. Kant had some impact but that's just nativism. If anything, Chomsky matters more to all those fields than Kant and is on equal ground as Kant in those fields.
  15. what you've described above sounds a lot more like Plato's political ideas, not Kant's. the quote from Groundwork doesn't support this. what he is saying there is that principles come from human nature itself, they logically follow from the fact that we are rational beings. because of this nature, "man is an end in himself", and should always be treated that way (with "dignity"). it is the same point that Rand makes that initiating force against a rational agent violates their nature. here are a few more quotes from the preface to Groundwork that are similar to: "A rational being obeys no law other than that which he himself at the same time gives." that might make it clearer:
  16. "Kantianism follows the ethics of rational yet subjective altruism to the point of forcing others (even violently) to heed one’s ‘social’ will (especially of those in power) as if it were universal law." "Kant seems to know minds better than people, thus allowing people who, he thinks, don't know their minds as well or well enough be forced to follow minds in power who know what the minds subservient to duty need to practice." I also think these are odd claims, especially given what you yourself just quoted him saying about dignity and being subject only to the law one writes one's self: "the idea of the dignity of a rational being, who obeys no law other than that which he himself at the same time gives" How can he be accused of advocating forcing others when he describes morality originating from the dignity of a person, meaning their freedom to choose based on reason? How can he be accused of replacing "social will" with universal law, when he describes how one ought to obey no law other than that which he *himself* gives?
  17. I'm not sure I agree on the point about general vs. specific. If Kant's position on metaphysics is that it's unknowable / pure subjectivism, then that's a really strong position, whereas Rand leaves metaphysical questions open. Her philosophy is more of a "method" than a metaphysically grounded philosophical system.
  18. Last week
  19. I thought my prior response to you addressed this. The people that provide a real impact on you are people you know, and those that provide a historical contribution or impact. Anything else is mythology. Stories can be of great value and express great ideas, but this isn't genealogy. Perhaps this transitivity applies to people your parents knew but are dead now, there's just no reason to say that the impact on -you- is ancestors no one in your family knew. The bigger point is that each person has to single out values to adopt and evaluate, so the only impact on who one is, is what one chooses to think. That action is all on the individual - "impact" is often a personal evaluation that is subject to error, bias, and even proper recognition. For the factors to choose religion like Islam, the great-great-granddad converting to Islam only had an impact on the culture he was part of or people around him like his kids. That choice maybe led him to send his kids to a mosque. Going to the mosque may have rationally convinced those kids to be Muslim. Then they send their kids, and so on. What is actually having the impact is the philosophy, and the ideas a culture promotes and people accept. The transitivity only works if it includes some sort of deification, where mythology is reified AND the people involved believe that their ancestors had a special role by being ancestors. We can only speak of being a product of X in the sense of unchosen and genetic factors. My having brown eyes is a product of genetics. My existing is a product of an ancestor from Bohemia coming to the US. Who I choose to be is all me - my context of the particulars around is set by the unchosen and the people I learn from. That Bohemian ancestor cannot rationally be of more value than all other Bohemian immigrants - unless he was heroic as an individual.
  20. I haven't been on here in a long while as well, higher value commitments pull me away! I am working my way through DIM and at the same time trying to familiarize myself more with Kant rather than rely entirely on third party perspectives (of course, I haven't the energy or time to actually read A Critique of Reason" so it's all gonna have to be third party somehow But just for fun I wanted to nitpick the statement: "Objectivism follows the ethics of rational or objective egoism to the detriment of sometimes being able to develop healthy relationships with others." I would argue that the ethics of rational egoism is the ONLY way to develop healthy relationships with others. Anything less than rational self-interest is either of so little value that it isn't worth it, or it's based on self-sacrifice and altruism, and is wholly unhealthy. Rational egoism seeks out mutually beneficial relationships in which both parties are willing participants who get something out of it (happiness, etc). To the extent that a relationship is altruistic i.e. self-destructive you will find an unhappy and unhealthy relationship. /digress Great post, BTW. Good stuff.
  21. Concerning premise 4b, which I thought was a bit unfair toward Kant, here is a paragraph involving the kind of 'social' will from Boydstun's excellent essay on Kant and Rand. The quote is taken from Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals: Kant seems to know minds better than people, thus allowing people who, he thinks, don't know their minds as well or well enough be forced to follow minds in power who know what the minds subservient to duty need to practice.
  22. So, the basic idea is the following. After completing and successfully defending my Master's thesis on Objectivist rhetoric in America, I am now planning on professionally studying the aforementioned issues for a Master's in philosophy in Russia. Hopefully there I'd be able to test whether we could build more awareness about Rand in philosophy departments, so keep in mind that your inputs are not only very welcomed but may also be influential in the development of my future thesis.
  23. Thanks, Repairman. Honestly, I missed you and every one else on this forum, even Harrison Danneskjold, whose comments had been always cutting and hewing me, but I even miss his comments. It's been long three years, my dear Objectivists, and I am back!
  24. Welcome back, Ilya It's always refreshing to view your multi-faceted concise and to-the-point interlocutions.
  25. Today
  26. As can be seen with an old popular thread I started on Objectivism online forum, I am very interested in putting side-to-side various philosophies, even before I learn that some of them cannot be thoroughly compared! So I would like to find out whether it is even possible to conceive of transcending Rand’s worldview with that of her well-known ‘archenemy’ – Immanuel Kant himself. I’ve spent the last two years trying to figure out this big conflict in contemporary philosophy by studying Kant’s philosophy and debating Kantians, especially on Philosophy forums, which are now, unfortunately, non-operational. So what are some ideas that I’d like to put forward to initiate this discussion? Part I: Describing conflicts First, I want to delineate the premises of my argument as conflicting characters of both philosophies. Let Objectivism take only (a) subdivisions, while Kantianism take only (b) subdivisions. General vs. specific Objectivism is general in respect to being broadly applied to most areas of life, including even sex (in Rand’s words!). Philosophy, according to Rand, is a way of living, rather than only a way of thinking (which is a part of living but not the whole). Hence Rand is more concerned with having an integrated picture of the whole rather than only its parts in isolation or abstraction. Rand’s epistemology starts with metaphysics (most broad or general field of philosophy). Kantianism is specific in respect to being narrowly applied only to thoughts concerning positive knowledge in theoretical science, moral/ethical practice, and judgments in art. Kantian way of thinking takes ideas in isolation and abstraction and only bounded by mind, representing all areas of knowledge within mental structures and through categories of thought. Kant’s epistemology cycles through itself, making metaphysics subservient to it without a possibility of deriving any knowledge about ends. External vs. internal Objectivism is concerned with external experience of reality, where it finds knowledge. Every judgment must correspond to or be ultimately derived from external reality. Kantianism is concerned with internal experience, wherein it claims to find all positive knowledge. Everything considered to be ‘external’ to mind is merely thought to be a representation or appearance structured by our mind as pure reason or inwardly directed by mind as practical reason with aesthetic judgments connecting the two reasons. Public vs. academic Objectivism is well known in general public by means of popular novels, podcasts, presentations, and audiobooks, but not among many academicians, who openly oppose it or try to avoid it. Formal discussions of Objectivism mostly occur in Objectivist journals, and Objectivist scholars do not take these discussions to established and trustworthy academic philosophical journals. Hence the nature of Objectivist discussions and research is mostly closed rather than open, in regard to academic work. Kantianism is popular among many academicians but not in general public. Kantianism is considered by many academicians to be a ‘suble’ and ‘true’ philosophy not comprehended quite enough by most others. Objective vs. subjective Objectivism follows the ethics of rational or objective egoism to the detriment of sometimes being able to develop healthy relationships with others. Objects in this philosophy precede private subjects. Kantianism follows the ethics of rational yet subjective altruism to the point of forcing others (even violently) to heed one’s ‘social’ will (especially of those in power) as if it were universal law. Peikoff describes Kantian influences on Nazism in The Ominous Parallels, and Kant himself praises the sublime in war over peace in Critique of Judgment, §28. Thus, subjects in this philosophy are not only central but the only ones, as physical objects in themselves are non-existent. Political vs. scientific Objectivism has greatly influenced the progress of politics and economics through conservatives, neoconservatives, libertarians, and even some liberals. However, Objectivism hasn’t had much effect on science. Kantianism has greatly influenced the progress of science through Bohr’s Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics, Chomsky’s universal grammar theory, and various neuro and cognitive scientists, anthropologists, and psychologists. However, Kantianism hasn’t had as much direct effect in politics. Part II: Transcending conflicts Second, as a possible way to transcend these areas as it would mostly benefit Objectivism (like a stronger connection to academia in 3), I need to provide a potential idea to be built upon. My current and main source of inspiration is Leonard Peikoff’s DIM Hypothesis (2012), which is based on Rand’s epistemology, in particular her theory of concepts. What Peikoff develops in his book called after his hypothesis is a metaphilosophy (although he doesn’t call it that) specifying boundaries of all philosophies involving three categories: disintegrating, integrating, and misintegrating. As a point of contention, these are Peikoff’s words that I reinterpreted in favor of my own hypothesis: I’ve been building on some concepts from Peikoff’s hypothesis this past couple of years and have found another way (a visual method) to describe all philosophies, while also borrowing some of these terms from Peikoff. Based on my extensive research, I would like to show not only that I independently verified some insights from Peikoff’s hypothesis (as I also did a few years back for Rand’s theory) but also describe what he had achieved (and he considers this book his greatest achievement so far) as an understanding of Rand’s epistemology not as an epistemology in academic sense (which they don’t accept as such) but a meta-epistemology that transcends epistemology as conceived by Kant. If Rand’s epistemology be truly a meta-epistemology and Peikoff’s hypothesis be truly metaphilosophical, then we can use these areas to transcend Kant’s ‘transcendental’ philosophy without losing specificity required (as in 1). As far as I know, Kant never covered these areas in his philosophy. Considering that there also exists a term ‘metametaphysics’ (books on the topic: 2009, 2015, and 2016; cf. my metaphysics), maybe this so-called ‘transcendence’ can also achieve greater breadth than Rand was able to conceive, although, as speculative as all this may sound, there is currently not enough understanding of these new ‘meta’ (meaning not just ‘after’ but ‘beyond’) fields because they are on the frontier of contemporary philosophical research. Maybe we can share knowledge and understanding to see whether any of my suggestions have ground for further developments. At the end, if we reach any conclusion, we may find and improve upon the missing links required for Objectivism to hold the center stage it deserves in philosophical discussions.
  27. Last week
  28. I strongly disagree. Religion is as different from mysticism as passivity from activity. True mystics were active individuals even to the point of being radical. Here is a list of mystics whom you could contrast to any religious idealist to date: Machiventa Melchizedek (1980 BC), Elijah (c. 900 BC), Laozi (605 BC), John the Baptist (c. 5 BC), Jesus Christ (7 BC), John the Apostle (6 AD), Hildegard von Bingen (1098), Helena Blavatsky (1831), Drunvalo Melchizedek (1941), Karen “Mila” Danrich (1960). There are more, but this should be enough to give you a comprehensive picture of genuine historical mysticism. Now, if you agree with (a Kantian?) Bertrand Russell who confused idealism with mysticism by claiming that Plato was a 'mystic' - then this is a question of your DIS, which evidently opposes true mysticism by giving its face (thus defacing, or concealing, it) to those it can easily reduce and disassemble into fragmentary pieces. In my book, what DISes do best is deceive, and it is much worse for atheists in this tradition than non-atheists, like Kant. Yet they standardize Kant in academia to justify their deceptions. Satan rather loves those who don't believe in him because that means there could come a time they would believe in him as god. And many have been so deceived. And this is one of Rand's mistakes (misintegrations). True materialism opposes true mysticism (which opposes true idealism). Does my statement need defense or explanation? This is as false as the above. True mysticism doesn't oppose reason, as Aristotle and Newton opposed neither reason nor mysticism. In fact, mysticism is what integrates heart (soul) and brain (mind), but both Kant and Rand fail at grasping this, which means they have something they share. How ironic that you bring up Russell, who seems to be in the Kantian tradition as his bridging the gap between logic and mathematics provided the ground for understanding the analytic a priori like Rudolf Carnap after him. If you are confused about mysticism, it's better not to create and than attack a straw man, but ask an actual mystic, like me. I know mysticism because I belong to their tradition. Do you have questions? All bullshit, sorry for my French. Only idealists and materialists can say this. By the way, idealists and materialists can perfectly complement each other (contrary to what Marxists believe) because they ultimately have the same end (Nonexistence). In contrast to idealists and materialists, the end of mystics is Existence. If you learn to think directionally (rather than only positionally, which is a fault that promulgates such false ideas about other philosophies) you would understand this. Otherwise, I am sorry, but you cannot be helped. This is true in the strictest sense of idealism there can be, as I've proved again and again during the last three years with my Diagram, but you would rather disintegrate or ignore it, right? That's what most of the academic kind like to do. Because facts contradict their petty beliefs, and they would rather have their beliefs than facts. Actually, I agree that idealism is directed toward mysticism (or spiritualism, as you put it). However, here we are differentiating position and direction. There is also idealism that is directed toward materialism, like Stalin's (except to Marxism only) or even Rand's. So instead of putting the direction into position, like you seem to be doing, try thinking of direction as dependent on position but not internal to it. The latter method works much better for differentiating various philosophies more accurately. That's what Aquinas said! Bah, this mixing of MIS and INT is no better than what Russell did. Oh yeah, and you should thank him for inspiring Kant with this and with much more (the mechanics?). So Berkley viewed not matter but his ideas of matter, which is the kind of appearances that idealists promote. In contrast to Berkley, Kant views actual matter as appearances that we can only understand through reason, like in Democritus as well. That's the main difference between idealists and materialists: idealists only view appearances that they believe in, and materialists only view appearances that they know exist. The key here that connects the two is appearances; that both look only on the surface and never at the whole as it is. Neither is concerned with actual, honest truth. Kant's evaluation of Berkeley is the same as Russell's evaluation of Plato, and Rand's evaluation of Hegel is spot on. Even Marxists know Hegel as a mystical idealist, different from all preceding idealists. There you go. In one statement you've shown two things: that Kant was a materialist in the tradition of Democritus, and that Berkley was an idealist in the tradition of Plato. You only need to look deeper into your own statement and think it through. Except in Kant that outer sense is also inner, as all 'beyond' mind representations are included 'within' mind. I call this inversive reductionism. Outside is what appears inside for Democritean materialists, since brain is also matter, did you know? Yeah, some highfalutin terms here, eh? People like coming up with terms, so we let them. In truth, not all terms mean what they intend to mean. Sometimes they are used to change perspective, sometimes to hide a perspective. For example, you can try changing frames for rhetorical purposes by calling taxation a burden and saying tax relief in order to change a liberal's perspective on taxes and persuade them to follow your point of view. Or you could call materialism transcendental idealism in order to change perspective on it for idealists. This way, you know you can have idealists accept your point of view and think it to be quite unique and even revolutionary! Oh, this is interesting because that's how I think of metaphysical Time and Space. Although physical ones would be the same if not taken to absolutes. That's how Kant seems to make what's beyond or outer to mind as internal: by calling space an a priori form of intuition. He has a discussion of this in Crit#3 on making macro a micro and vice versa by giving scientific analogies of the functional faculties of microscopes and telescopes (I would make here an analogy to theoretical and practical reasons). If this is so, then Bacon also followed Aristotle, since Locke followed Bacon. Most Kantians would disagree, referring to Bacon's criticisms of Aristotle, but I agree wholeheartedly. Go Kant! Yeah, and they say that Leibniz attempted to 'integrate' Plato (MIS) with Democritus (DIS). Seeing how highly Kant (DIS) spoke of Leibniz, I now think it must have been true. Leibniz's DIS part, just as that of Descartes, must have been a very noticeable appendage for Kant. Yes, and this is also called the Kantian dare to know! This kind of knowledge is reflected in destroying one's objects of sensation in order to 'know' them. Unfortunately, don't you think? Especially considering that we learn about particles by destroying them. In Kant, there was also a passage about receiving a conception of an eye when cutting the eye open (Remark I to §57 in Crit#3). You may extend the analogy. Perhaps transhumanists (also mostly Kantians) need to cut open living people in order to understand them and use this understanding in making them into robots in order to make us happy! Dare to kill! would be a better maxim for those Kantians who feel like the boundaries of knowledge are not so prohibitive anymore. Wow. And this is told about the man who basically started philosophy as we know it by the man who followed in the footsteps of Democritus. And you still squinge at my comparison without thinking what Plato would have done if he knew that philosophy would come to this end? Oh yeah, intuition? Is that schematic or symbolic, a la Kant? So you know, intuition can never be intellectualized so, especially not through math and geometry like Plato did. Intuition is better known by mystics, who feel with their hearts before they think with their minds. And let me tell you: mystics use math like Newton did -- that's to describe reality -- and not like Plato did -- to try to force reality to follow mental laws. Don't bullshit me about intuition no more. One thing I want to stress: Plato's level of position was metacosmic, while Kant's was metaphysical brain (really, just brain with metaphysical categories in it, like principles and parameters in a Chomskyan universal grammar module). Not 'purely' in the Kantian sense, but otherwise false. See his descriptions of intuition in §59 of Crit#3. Kant's philosophy surely is. And in academia nowadays this is the only kind that is respected. This is what those who are in power want from us. But reason can fathom a priori 's, which were before childhood? No contradiction here? Kant's philosophy is a joke. Only his theology has any value. Oh boy, why should I listen to Kant here? Aren't both 'faculties' just different ways our mind is used? I would rather connect science with ethics in my mind than separate them like Kant did. Otherwise, we have scientists who cause much suffering in the world. Just consider Richard Feynman and the atomic bomb. He obviously couldn't combine his two 'faculties' because he was an atheist, so there was nothing from the 'practical' side to connect, other than to nothing. I guess this goes along with his keeping sense and intellect separate. Yes, thus they both opposed heart, wherefrom happiness springs forth. Yeah, they have to complicate happiness and distance themselves from it to the point of happiness becoming so heavy as to be undecipherable. In truth, one grasps happiness only when one feels it (through the heart) and not when one merely reasons through it (through the brain). Therefore, happiness is quite a simple matter and doesn't really have to be discussed by philosophers who maybe have something better to do (or maybe not, and thus they discuss it, wasting our time). Yeah, but such people love to use Kant to justify their actions against humanity to a great extent (end too). Without Kant, they wouldn't have had such a wonderful scapegoat! Kant seems to know minds better than people, thus allowing people who, he thinks, don't know their minds as well or well enough be forced to follow minds in power who know what the minds subservient to duty need to practice. I think supramental information, as the judgments of minds other than your own, is the death of philosophy. Thus, if taking Kant for who he was, we should leave his reasoning for his own mind and not attach anyone else's to it. At least then we could survive and not suffocate to death from such a philosophy. Yes, true, feeling and also sense. Thank you for the essay, Boydstun. It was very well written and researched. I particularly liked your conclusion and that Rand's ethics, as based on individual rather than mind alone, is a better choice.
  29. EPIST Just to follow up: Take the example of whether or not the taste of "chocolate" is pleasurable to John. Prior to John's ever having tasted chocolate the statement: "John finds the taste of chocolate pleasurable." Is false, because he cannot find the taste of something which he has not tasted to have any quality or character whereas the statement: "John will find the taste of chocolate pleasurable." might be true, depending upon the nature of John, his brain, his taste-buds etc... the facts of which are currently not accessible to testing by modern science. The reason the above obtains is because the question regarding whether John finds the taste of something pleasurable requires that he taste it, whereas the question of whether or not John would find it pleasurable is in the form of a hypothetical, i.e. it attempts to answer whether he would find the taste pleasurable IF he tasted it. Similarly, consider whether or not a movie, a locket from a lost love, or anything in particular has meaning to Kevin. Prior to Kevin's experiencing the movie or receiving the locket, or experiencing the "anything", the statement (substituting X for any of these) : "Kevin finds X has meaning for him." Is false because the requirements for Kevin finding meaning in something have not been met. Consider also the possibility that Kevin would also have to think about, ponder, or contemplate the movie or the locket prior to the possibility of his finding it to have meaning for him. Then even if Kevin saw the movie or received the locket, but prior to thinking about it, maybe he does not have the time, he is not very introspective etc. these might not have meaning for him. Consider now the following question: "Kevin will (or would) find X to be meaningful when (or if) he reflects upon it." This statement CAN be true, depending upon Kevin and what in him determines what he finds meaning in. The above might be perfectly obvious, but I thought I should clarify the difference between actually finding meaning in something and what we can call the potential to find meaning in something.
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